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Comment: Re:Which direction? (Score 1) 144

by crunchygranola (#46750657) Attached to: The Best Way To Watch the "Blood Moon" Tonight

Look for it as the eclipse starts, it will be a full moon high overhead. You can't miss it (assuming that you can see the sky at all).

At the height of eclipse the moon turns dark reddish because the only thing illuminating it are all the world's sunsets and sunrises at once!

After the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in mid 1991 pushing more particulates and sulfur into the stratosphere than any eruption since Krakatoa, the following lunar eclipse on 9 December 1992 was so dark the moon completely disappeared, except for observers in truly dark sky sites.

The El Chichón eruption in 1982 also led to a very dark lunar eclipses in July and December of that year (but not as dark as the Pinatubo eclipse).

It shouldn't be a dark eclipse tonight, since there have been no major recent eruptions - but these things are hard to predict.

Comment: Re:WHAT? (Score 4, Informative) 723

by crunchygranola (#46738083) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

>There is a massive cache of existing technology which can be repurposed to rebuild society.

None of which works when the electricity dies.

There are a huge number of electrical generators in existence - almost every vehicle on the planet has one for example. Anything that can run a motor can produce electricity. Electricity would be precious perhaps, but absent? Hardly.

Comment: The Question Is Ill Posed (Score 1) 723

by crunchygranola (#46737715) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Without laying down what we mean by this "apocalypse" (What happened? Where? Why?) no useful discussion can result (well, this is Slashdot, so perhaps I am being redundant).

Is industrial civilization just going to sort of evaporate? Really? How?

Why would we revert to pre-industrial society, rather than to an earlier form of industrial civilization, or more likely a hybrid of early and later technology?

Comment: People Don't Want to Toss a Good Computer (Score 1) 641

by crunchygranola (#46695603) Attached to: Meet the Diehards Who Refuse To Move On From Windows XP

"Moving on", in the words of Tom Murphy, means throwing out a computer, loaded with the software you use, that does exactly what you want it to.

A system originally built with XP was bought more than 7 years ago, and due to OS bloat, er, "enhancements", the currently available OS offerings from M$ will not run on it. Your only option is to toss the computer, and buy a brand new one. And right now for your average user that means having to "upgrade" to Windows 8, which a confirmed XP user is probably not that keen on (yeah, I know they put the "start" button back, but that ain't fixing a broken GUI).

I have a perfectly good XP desktop that, since it will no longer get security patches, I am going to have to abandon. Since I hate Windows 8, that means a custom build on which I can install Windows 7. I had hoped to wait for Windows 9, but the end-of-life on XP now forces my hand.

Comment: Re:People need to start with the scale (Score 1) 392

by crunchygranola (#46665945) Attached to: How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

And after 900 your fission 'war' heads won't work anymore, so the slow down will be difficult ^_^

Why would that be? U-235 has a half-life of 700 million years. These things can be engineered to be storable for a few millenia (especially with deep space cold storage - if needed).

Comment: Re:People need to start with the scale (Score 1) 392

by crunchygranola (#46664133) Attached to: How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

... The fastest spacecrafts we've ever built take about 9 years or so to go from Earth to Pluto. At that rate, they would take about 120,000 years to reach the next closest solar system....

True, but irrelevant. No one is going to build a generation ship powered by chemical rockets, not even with gravity assists.

The one technology that we currently know can be turned into interstellar propulsion is fission pulse propulsion - using many small fission bombs.

With optimization of this technology, and a suitably large vessel (the technology does not scale down very well) speeds up to ~0.5% c possible, making the voyage a mere 900 years.

Comment: Re:What's the big deal? (Score 1) 150

by crunchygranola (#46663611) Attached to: Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

And let's not touch land for three years, as some of the old whalers did. And let's make sure that everyone knows there is a minimum of a 20% mortality starting off. And let's enforce discipline with a rope's end.

I don't think so. Pacific whaling voyages from New Bedford might indeed last three (even four) years - but they sure as heck touched land during that period. Whaling vessel visits to Pacific ports were the rule - Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand were common ports of call, with calls at the many Pacific islands also (see how many times Melville trod on land).

Also, on these long-range whaling voyages flogging was rare. These men were generally trained professionals, and they vied for births on out-going voyages where they stood to make some good money. Don't confuse the commercial whaling fleet with the conscripted ranks of the British navy of an earlier period. Shorter voyages are a different story.

But, yeah, dangerous. Loss rates of 100% were not unknown.

Comment: Re:What's the big deal? (Score 1) 150

by crunchygranola (#46663287) Attached to: Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

Only some of the time? That is not much consolation.

But you are right to point out these situations as models.

And there is abundant data that these extreme situations have terrible psychological tolls on the survivors, even if they don't go stark raving mad.

See, for example, the Chilean miners trapped in 2010.

Comment: Re:The irony of ethics. (Score 1) 150

by crunchygranola (#46663211) Attached to: Will Living On Mars Drive Us Crazy?

...

Might want to pull back the macroscopic lens there chief before you drown in the irony of the fact that you're conducting this very experiment in order for us to send people on a one-way trip to Mars.

...

No, they aren't. The Hi-SEAS project is sponsored by NASA and NASA is not proposing any (deliberate) one-way missions. If it is infeasible to develop a means to return humans landed on Mars this simply means that NASA won't mount such a mission, period. (A humans-in-Mars-orbit teleoperating robots with no time delay on the surface would still be possible.)

Did you see the item about the NASA deep space mission hazard study posted here a couple of days ago? I read it, and they are talking about missions where humans return.

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

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